Advertising Compliance Service
Legal Resources - Statutes Relating to FTC's Consumer Protection Mission
Wool Products Labeling Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 68-68j, as amended)
Under this statute, the manufacture, introduction, sale, transportation, distribution, or importation of misbranded wool constitutes a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The Act was amended, by the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-417, §§ 301-307, 98 Stat. 1585, 1603, to require (1) that wool product labels indicate the country in which the product was processed or manufactured, and (2) that mail order promotional materials clearly and conspicuously state whether a wool product was processed or manufactured in the United States or was imported.
Fur Products Labeling Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 69-69j)
This statute requires that articles of apparel made of fur be labeled, and that invoices and advertising for furs and fur products specify, among other things, the true English name of the animal from which the fur was taken, and whether the fur is dyed or used. The Act also requires the Commission to issue a Fur Product Name Guide
Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 70-70k, as amended)
This statute deals with mandatory content disclosure in the labeling, invoicing, and advertising of textile fiber products. Under the Act, misbranding is unlawful, as is falsely or deceptively invoicing or advertising textile fiber products. The Act also directs the Commission to establish a generic name for each man-made fiber that does not as yet have such a name.The statute was amended by the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (Pub. L. No. 98-417) to require (1) that any textile fiber product processed or manufactured in the United States be so identified, and (2) that mail order promotional materials clearly and conspicuously indicate whether a textile fiber product was processed or manufactured in the United States or was imported.
Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1340, as amended)This Act requires the Commission to submit annual reports to Congress concerning (a) the effectiveness of cigarette labeling, (b) current practices and methods of cigarette advertising and promotion, and (c) recommendations for legislation. The statute was amended by the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1986 (Pub. L. No. 98-474, 98 Stat. 2200), which establishes the text of four health-related warning labels and requires that cigarette packages and advertisements carry these warnings on a rotating basis.
Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (80 Stat. 1296, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1451-1461)This Act directs the Commission to issue regulations requiring that all consumer commodities other than food, drugs, therapeutic devices, and cosmetics be labeled to disclose net contents, identity of commodity, and name and place of business of the product's manufacturer, packer, or distributor. The Act authorizes additional regulations where necessary to prevent consumer deception (or to facilitate value comparisons) with respect to descriptions of ingredients, slack fill of packages, use of "cents-off" or lower price labeling, or characterization of package sizes.
Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1667f, as amended)This Act (Title I of the Consumer Credit Protection Act) vests the Commission with responsibility for assuring compliance by non-depository entities with a variety of statutory provisions. Specifically, the Act requires all creditors who deal with consumers to make certain written disclosures concerning all finance charges and related aspects of credit transactions (including disclosing finance charges expressed as an annual percentage rate). The Act also establishes a three-day right of rescission in certain transactions involving the establishment of a security interest in the consumer's residence (with certain exclusions, such as interests taken in connection with the purchase or initial construction of a dwelling). The Act also establishes certain requirements for advertisers of credit terms.
Fair Credit Billing Act (15 U.S.C. 1666-1666j)This Act, amending the Truth in Lending Act, requires prompt written acknowledgment of consumer billing complaints and investigation of billing errors by creditors. The amendment prohibits creditors from taking actions that adversely affect the consumer's credit standing until an investigation is completed, and affords other protection during disputes. The amendment also requires that creditors promptly post payments to the consumer's account, and either refund overpayments or credit them to the consumer's account.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681(u), as amended)The Act protects information collected by consumer reporting agencies such as credit bureaus, medical information companies and tenant screening services. Information in a consumer report cannot be provided to anyone who does not have a purpose specified in the Act. Companies that provide information to consumer reporting agencies also have specific legal obligations, including the duty to investigate disputed information. Also, users of the information for credit, insurance, or employment purposes must notify the consumer when an adverse action is taken on the basis of such reports. Further, users must identify the company that provided the report, so that the accuracy and completeness of the report may be verified or contested by the consumer.
Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act (codified in scattered sections of the U.S. Code, particularly 15 U.S.C. 1637(c)-(g))This Act, amending the Truth in Lending Act, requires credit and charge card issuers to provide certain disclosures in direct mail, telephone and other applications and solicitations to open-end credit and charge accounts and under other circumstances.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1691-1691f, as amended)This Act (Title VII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, receipt of public assistance, or good faith exercise of any rights under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The Act also requires creditors to provide applicants, upon request, with the reasons underlying decisions to deny credit.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692o, as amended)Under this Act (Title VIII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act), third-party debt collectors are prohibited from employing deceptive or abusive conduct in the collection of consumer debts incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. Such collectors may not, for example, contact debtors at odd hours, subject them to repeated telephone calls, threaten legal action that is not actually contemplated, or reveal to other persons the existence of debts. Electronic Fund Transfer Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1693-1693r) This statute (Title IX of the Consumer Credit Protection Act) establishes the rights, liabilities, and responsibilities of participants in electronic fund transfer systems. The Act requires financial institutions to adopt certain practices respecting such matters as transaction accounting, preauthorized transfers, and error resolution, and sets liability limits for losses caused by unauthorized transfers.
Consumer Leasing Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1667-1667f, as amended)This Act, amending the Truth in Lending Act, regulates personal property leases that exceed 4 months in duration and that are made to consumers for personal, family, or household purposes. The statute requires that certain lease costs and terms be disclosed, imposes limitations on the size of penalties for delinquency or default and on the size of residual liabilities, and requires certain disclosures in lease advertising.
Magnuson Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 2301-2312)Title I of this Act authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to develop regulations for written and implied warranties. The Act directs the Commission to establish disclosure and designation standards for written warranties, specifies standards for full warranties, and establishes consumer remedies for breach of warranty or service contract obligations.
Hobby Protection Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2106)This Act outlaws manufacturing or importing imitation numismatic and collectible political items unless they are marked in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Federal Trade Commission.
Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 2801-2841)Subchapter II of this Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 2821-2824) authorizes the Commission to prescribe requirements for the calculation and posting of gasoline octane ratings by gasoline distributors and retailers.
Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (39 U.S.C. § 3009(a))Section 3009(a) of this Act authorizes the Commission to prosecute as an unfair or deceptive practice in violation of the FTC Act any use of the mails to send unordered merchandise.
Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986 (15 U.S.C. §§ 4401-4408)This Act requires manufacturers, packagers, and importers of smokeless tobacco products to place one of three statutorily-prescribed health warning labels on product packages and in advertisements, and prohibits advertising of smokeless tobacco products on radio and television. The Act directs the Federal Trade Commission to require that the label warnings be displayed on a rotating basis, and that they be placed conspicuously on smokeless tobacco packages and in advertisements.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991(Pub. L. No. 102-242, codified in relevant part at 12 U.S.C. § 1831t, as amended)Section 151 of this Act (adding section 43 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act), as amended by the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-352) requires non-federally insured depository institutions to disclose in certain locations, documents, and advertising that the institution is not federally insured. The section requires the Commission to prescribe by rule the manner and content of those disclosures and enforce compliance with the rule. The section also requires private deposit insurers to obtain annual audits and provide copies to the depository institutions they insure (who must provide them to customers on request) and to the appropriate state supervisory agencies. The section provides appropriate state supervisors with express authority to examine and enforce compliance with the section. The 2008 appropriations act prohibits implementation of a provision that authorizes the Commission to extend the law to certain additional entities.
Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act (104 Stat. 4465, codified in relevant part at 16 U.S.C. § 1385, as amended)The Act makes it unlawful under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act for any producer, importer, exporter, distributor, or seller of any tuna product that is exported from or offered for sale in the United States to deceptively claim that its tuna is "dolphin safe." The standard for labeling tuna as "dolphin safe" has been loosened by Section 5 of the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act (Pub. L. No. 105-42, 111 Stat. 1122).
Energy Policy Act of 1992 (106 Stat. 2776, codified in scattered sections of the U.S. Code, particularly 42 U.S.C. §§ 6201 et seq.)This Act amends the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (see Statutes - Both Missions) to require that the Commission issue: (1) disclosure rules to assist consumers in choosing the most efficient incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs; (2) efficiency labeling rules for certain plumbing fixtures; (3) amendments to the Commission's Octane Certification and Posting Rule establishing automotive fuel posting and certification requirements for all liquid automotive fuels, including alternative fuels; and (4) labeling requirements concerning the costs and benefits of non-petroleum alternative fuels and alternative-fueled vehicles. The Act also requires the Commission to enforce energy efficiency labeling rules issued by the Department of Energy for high intensity discharge lamps, distribution transformers, and small electric motors, and gives the Commission contingent authority to issue efficiency labeling rules for windows, commercial office equipment, and luminaries if the Department of Energy finds that it is appropriate to develop energy efficiency testing procedures for such products. The Commission's rules can be found at 16 C.F.R. Parts 305, 306, and 309.
Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act of 1992 (codified in relevant part at 15 U.S.C. §§ 5701 et seq.)The Act requires the Commission to promulgate certain regulations respecting advertising for, operation of, and billing and collection procedures for, pay-per-call or "900 number" telephone services. The regulations must include certain provisions, such as price disclosure requirements, mandatory warnings on services directed to children, and required disclosures in billing statements. The Act also directs the Commission to promulgate a regulation extending to pay-per-call services the billing dispute provisions of the Fair Credit Billing Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1666 et seq. The Commission's rules can be found at 16 C.F.R. Part 308.
Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (codified in relevant part at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6101-6108)The Act requires the Commission to promulgate regulations (1) defining and prohibiting deceptive telemarketing acts or practices; (2) prohibiting telemarketers from engaging in a pattern of unsolicited telephone calls that a reasonable consumer would consider coercive or an invasion of privacy; (3) restricting the hours of the day and night when unsolicited telephone calls may be made to consumers; and (4) requiring disclosure of the nature of the call at the start of an unsolicited call made to sell goods or services. The law expressly authorizes the Commission to include within the rules' coverage entities that "assist or facilitate" deceptive telemarketing practices. The Commission's rules can be found at 16 C.F.R. Part 310.
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Pub. L. No. 103-322)Under Section 320933 of the Act (108 Stat. 2135, 15 U.S.C. § 45a), labels representing that a product is "Made in America" or "Made in the U.S.A." must conform with the domestic content requirements for such claims established by the Commission's decisions and orders. The current standard for making such claims is that the product's content of parts and labor must be "all or virtually all" domestic.
Telecommunication Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-104)Section 701(b)(1) of the Act, amending section 204(1) of the Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act of 1992 (TDDRA), 15 U.S.C. § 5714(1), authorizes the Commission to expand upon the definition of "pay-per-call service (currently 900 number services)" to "other similar services providing audio information or audio entertainment if the Commission determines such services are susceptible to the unfair and deceptive practices" prohibited by the Commission's TDDRA rules.
Home Equity Loan Consumer Protection Act (codified in scattered sections of the U.S. Code, particularly 15 U.S.C. §§ 1637 and 1647)
This Act, amending the Truth in Lending Act, requires creditors to provide certain disclosures for open-end credit plans secured by the consumer's dwelling and imposes substantive limitations on such plans.
Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1639)The Act, amending the Truth in Lending Act, establishes disclosure requirements and prohibits equity stripping and other abusive practices in connection with high-cost mortgages. It is enforced by the Commission for nondepository lenders and by the states through their attorneys general.
Credit Repair Organizations Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1679-1679j)
This Act, Pub. L. No. 104-208, § 2451, 110 Stat. 3009-455 (Sept. 30, 1996), amending title IV of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, prohibits untrue or misleading representations and requires certain affirmative disclosures in the offering or sale of "credit repair" services. The Act bars "credit repair" companies from demanding advance payment, requires that "credit repair" contracts be in writing, and gives consumers certain contract cancellation rights.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506)
This Act protects children’s privacy by giving parents the tools to control what information is collected from their children online. Under the Act’s implementing Rule (codified at 16 C.F.R. Part 312), operators of commercial websites and online services directed to or knowingly collecting personal information from children under 13 must: (1) notify parents of their information practices; (2) obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting a child’s personal information; (3) give parents a choice as to whether their child’s information will be disclosed to third parties; (4) provide parents access to their child’s information; (5) let parents prevent further use of collected information; (6) not require a child to provide more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in an activity; and (7) maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of the information.
In order to encourage active industry self-regulation, the Act also includes a "safe harbor" provision allowing industry groups and others to request Commission approval of self-regulatory guidelines to govern participating websites’ compliance with the Rule.
Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act of 1998 (codified in relevant part at 18 U.S.C. § 1028 note)Section 5 of this Act, Pub. L. No. 105-318, 112 Stat. 3007, makes the FTC a central clearinghouse for identity theft complaints. The Act requires the FTC to log and acknowledge such complaints, provide victims with relevant information, and refer their complaints to appropriate entities (e.g., the major national consumer reporting agencies and other law enforcement agencies).
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act(Pub. L.106-102, 113 Stat.1338, codified in relevant part at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6801-6809 and §§ 6821-6827, as amended)Title V, subtitle A, of this Act requires the FTC, along with several other agencies, to issue regulations (see 16 CFR Part 313) ensuring that financial institutions protect the privacy of consumers' personal financial information. Such institutions must develop and give notice of their privacy policies to their own customers at least annually and before disclosing any consumer's personal financial information to an unaffiliated third party, must give notice and an opportunity for that consumer to "opt out" from such disclosure. The subtitle also requires the FTC and other agencies to issue regulations (see 16 CFR Part 314) for the safeguarding of personal financial information. The Act also limits the sharing of account number information for marketing purposes. Subtitle B of Title V prohibits obtaining customer information of a financial institution by false pretenses. The FTC enforces these provisions with regard to entities not specifically assigned by the provision to the Federal banking agencies or other regulators.
College Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 (codified in relevant part at 20 U.S.C. § 1092d)This Act requires the FTC, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Education to jointly submit a report to Congress each year on fraud in the offering of college education financial assistance services. Each report must contain an assessment of the nature and quantity of incidents of such fraud during the previous year. The FTC is also directed to work with the Secretary of Education in maintaining a scholarship fraud awareness site on the Department of Education’s website.
Crimes Against Charitable Americans Act of 2001 (section 1011 of the USA PATRIOT Act) (107 Pub. L. No. 56, codified in relevant part to 15 U.S.C. § 6102, 6106)This Act amends the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 6101-6108, to require the FTC to have in its telemarketing rules a definition of deceptive telemarketing practices that includes fraudulent charitable solicitations. The Act further specifies that the FTC’s telemarketing rules must include a requirement that anyone engaged in telemarketing for the solicitation of charitable contributions must clearly disclose that as the purpose of the call and authorizes the FTC to prescribe other disclosures it considers appropriate.
Do-Not-Call Implementation Act (15 U.S.C. § 6101 note)This Act authorizes the FTC to collect fees for the implementation and enforcement of a do-not-call registry. The Act allows fees to be collected for fiscal years 2003 through 2007. The Act further requires the FCC to issue a compatible do-not-call registry rule and directs the FTC and the FCC to submit an annual report on the registry to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for fiscal years 2003 through 2007.
Do-Not-Call Registry Act of 2003 (15 U.S.C. § 6102 note)This Act authorizes the FTC under section 3(a)(3)(A) of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, 15 U.S.C. § 6102(a)(3)(A), to implement and enforce a do-not-call registry. The Act also ratified the do-not-call registry provision of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 C.F.R. 310.4(b)(1)(iii), which became effective on March 31, 2003.
Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (codified to 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681x)This Act, amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), adds provisions designed to improve the accuracy of consumers’ credit-related records. It gives consumers the right to one free credit report a year from the credit reporting agencies, and consumers may also purchase for a reasonable fee a credit score along with information about how the credit score is calculated. The Act also adds provisions designed to prevent and mitigate identity theft, including a section that enables consumers to place fraud alerts in their credit files. Further, the act grants consumers additional rights with respect to how their information is used. The FTC has rulemaking responsibilities under numerous provisions of the Act and study requirements under many more.
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003(CAN-SPAM Act) (15 U.S.C §§ 7701-7713)
This Act establishes requirements for those who send unsolicited commercial email. The Act bans false or misleading header information and prohibits deceptive subject lines. It also requires that unsolicited commercial email provide recipients with a method for opting out of receiving such email and must be identified as an advertisement. In addition to enforcing the statute, the FTC must issue rules involving the required labeling of sexually explicit commercial email and the criteria for determining the primary purpose of a commercial email. The Act also instructs the Commission to report to Congress on the feasibility of a National Do-Not-E-Mail Registry, as well as requiring reports on the labeling of all unsolicited commercial email, the creation of a “bounty system” to promote enforcement of the law, and the effectiveness and enforcement of the statute.
Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (15 U.S.C. § 7801-7807)
This Act prohibits certain conduct by sports agents relating to the signing of contracts with student athletes. It makes it unlawful for an agent to directly or indirectly recruit a student athlete by giving any false or misleading information, making a false promise or representation, or providing anything of value to a student athlete, or anyone associated with the athlete, before he or she has entered into an agency contract. The Act further requires agents to provide student athletes with a disclosure document, warning them that they may lose their eligibility to compete as student athletes in their sports. The Act provides the Commission and state attorneys general with enforcement authority.
Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-8)
This Act amends the Truth in Lending Act in various respects, including requiring certain creditors to disclose on the front of billing statements a minimum monthly payment warning for consumers and a toll-free telephone number, established and maintained by the Commission, for consumers seeking information on the time required to repay specific credit balances.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (Title 8 of Safe Port Act, Pub. L. 109-347, codified at 31 U.S.C. 5361 et seq.)
This Act prohibits any person engaged in the business of betting, as defined, from knowingly accepting credit, electronic fund transfers, checks, or any other payment involving a financial institution to settle unlawful internet gambling debts. The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board must develop jointly and prescribe regulations requiring payment systems to identify and block or otherwise prevent or prohibit the acceptance of payment for internet gambling transactions. The FTC enforces the Act and regulations with respect to payment systems and financial transaction providers not specifically assigned to other agencies under GLB or the Commodities Exchange Act.
Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act, Pub. L.109-422)
This Act formally establishes and enhances the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, of which the FTC is a member.
NOTE: For the latest summaries of these statutes, go to the Federal Trade Commission website at http://www.ftc.gov/ogc/stat3.shtm
Advertising Law-Related Articles
- "12 Key Advertising-Related Laws You Should Know"
- This article examines 12 key advertising-related laws that you should know about before you review your ads to make sure your ads don't run afoul of these laws.
- "10 Things to Do So Your Ads Comply With Advertising Laws"
- This article discusses 10 key areas you should look at when you're reviewing your advertising to determine whether it's in compliance with advertising law's many requirements.
- "10 Tactics to Use So Your Ads Comply with Advertising Laws"
- This article presents 10 tactics you could use to help your ads comply with the many laws, rules, regulations and guidelines that may affect your advertisements.
- "10 Major Advertising Law-Related Concepts"
- This article is a useful review of 10 key areas you should look at when you're reviewing your advertising to determine whether it's in compliance with the numerous laws, rules, regulations and guidelines that may affect your ads.